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Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Saw A Glimpse of the Way My Life Could Be

   I had a very emotional day at work last week. I saw what my life could have been like if Benjamin had lived. We were told about a bunch of "white" spots in his brain representing severe brain damage, so if he survived, he would be extremely disabled. My response the the doctor when he told me this was,"I will change his diapers until he is 100 years old!" I knew I could handle it, I had worked with disabled people of all ages my entire life. I have always wanted to live like them in a sense! They don't worry about all the hoopla in the world, they brighten up lives and remind us to appreciate what we have more often. I was definitely up for the challenge. I imagine I would have had to stop working to take care of him full-time, I would work with him as much as I could to bring him to the highest point he could reach, I would be proud of him everyday of my life.
     Like I said before, last week a wonderful family came in with a teenage son that had severe developmental delays. I was working on his admission, when this child that is old enough to be driving, needed his diaper changed. I went to close the door so people passing in the hall could not see in, and after my five steps to the door, I turned to find that the parents had already changed his diaper. They were an awesome team. They were happy, they were patient, they were in love, and they were up for this challenge. I wondered if Paul and I would have survived a child like this and if we could handle it with such grace. You see, in my profession, I work with lots of disabled children and I have noticed how many are from divorced homes. This puts a strain on a marriage, but I have witnessed the strength of a marriage that survives the first few years of dealing with a child that needs more from you than you even think you have in you. I admire this family. They are stronger as a unit, this is evident. I would love to give them a weekend away to enjoy one another as a couple. This couple were Christians and we talked about our faith. They were giving God the glory for their marriage and they were so grateful for their son. I started getting sad when I thought about how many people make the decision to abort their baby if they find out anything is "wrong" with it. I would still want my baby, even if he had a diagnosis that made him be dependent upon me for the rest of his life. I would consider this an honor.
     Another family that comes to mind for me is the Suffron's that go to our church. This couple has become united in caring for George, and their son is doing things that doctors told them he would never do. Just goes to show you that no doctor can stop our God. I saw their son George walking today and my heart filled with joy, this is just one more milestone that they have reached. He is a miracle and he keeps showing those around him God's strength. I admire this couple and family. Amy makes mothering George look easy and she never complains. She even finds the time to come to nearly all of my fundraisers and all of the committee meetings for the fundraising planning. She has blessed my life in more ways than one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blessed Beyond Belief

Tears flowed for me like a river this weekend.  I cannot even begin to tell you in words how my heart feels right now. I never imagined there would be a turn-out of so many people for the softball tournament. I knew nearly everyone at the tournament, which is humbling. My eyes are still bloodshot from all the tears, tears of utter joy. I saw people from every walk and era of my life. From childhood best friends like Kim Culpepper Artall and Rachel Hogan Hunt to my college softball buddies, to former students, coworkers from all of my jobs, to Dr. Rowe!  I had one of my friends, Heather Schumaker whom I have mentioned before tell me, "Katrinia, I have never seen you this happy!" She is right, because she had never seen me play softball before. I can't explain how playing softball makes me feel. It is where I am the most comfortable, the most confident, the most knowledgeable, and the one place I can forget all my troubles and be free. It has always been "that" place for me. I haven't talked too much about my childhood, but if I could sum it up in a phrase,  I would have to say that Jesus and softball saved my life. They both gave me purpose, they both challenged me, they both loved me back. I never got into too much trouble throughout high school because I was too busy doing what I loved every weekend and all summer long, I was on the field. Softball always gave me an out. When I was too weak of a Christian to tell my friends that I didn't want to go out and drink or go places I knew I shouldn't, I would just blame it on softball. I would have to go to bed early because I had a game the next day. Both these things also saved me because they kept me from drinking alcohol, (I can count on one hand the number of times I drank alcohol). Little did I know at the time, my body was already in a battle with my liver. My doctor had told me that not drinking had probably saved my life by the time they found out what I had.
     Then, I originally went off to Sam Houston State where I played for one year, but we had a coaching change and a terrible experience all together and our team literally all left after that season. I went home and had what I call my "six months of rebellion," which was very mild comparatively. I got my bellybutton pierced, which makes me laugh now because I have never had a body that was very skinny, so I had no business getting this pierced, but my mom had told me that I couldn't get one, so I did. Then, I quit waitressing at a restaurant and starting being a cocktail waitress at a bar. I moved out of my parents' house and in with my sister and best friend Kim Culpepper. I was still in school at San Jac for the Fall semester. I would really call this my selfish period of life because I just didn't care about what everyone else thought, but I soon realized that this was not the life for me and this coach from Northeast Louisiana kept calling me and she wanted me to play softball for her. Little does she know that she caught me on a day that I was really down and I said YES, I will come there and play softball for you. It is crazy that one of the best decisions of my life was literally made on a whim. And of course, this story involves my cousin Karen. She drove with me up to the school to take my stuff and check out the school. It was a great weekend. See, she has ALWAYS been right there when I needed her.
     Going to what is now called ULM-University of Louisiana at Monroe made me start making my own decisions and stop depending on other people. I started making the decision to go to church as often as I could, to read my Bible everyday, to pray more, to share Jesus more, to love Jesus more. No one was dragging me to church and I wasn't going just so my parents wouldn't call me and ask where I was if I missed church. I was going to church because I loved the Lord. This coach at ULM, Coach Holloway had a big impact on my walk with Christ as well. Even if I didn't always agree with her coaching decisions, line-up decisions, or where we went for dinner as a team, I always had a connection with her because we both love and worship the same God. She was very involved with our FCA group and we volunteered every year at her church for the pumpkin patch sale. I knew that she loved her team and all her players. She still keeps up with me to this day and I am so grateful that she wanted me on her team because the relationships I made with my teammates and roommates, and the youth I served at my church are still some of the best and most important relationships in my life.    
     Back to this weekend, my former teammates, "the Has Beens" came in from Oklahoma and Louisiana, and Texas. It is amazing how so much time can pass and we can pick up right where we left off. It was so fun to talk about all our fun memories. Mimi has the best memory of anyone I have ever met, she still remembers all the details of our games. Lori Tande organized the team and got everyone together. I can honestly say that she is the best player I ever had the privilege to play with. The best thing about her is that she has been and always will be humble. She is not prideful or arrogant about her talent. She would make plays that seemed impossible. I loved watching her play and bat. She is a natural. Jenny Buller came in to play as well and she is an outstanding player with more heart than can fit in her petite body. She is a better hunter than most men I know, she is beautiful, and she is a ball of fun. She is one of those people that everyone always wants to be around. She and her family are good people, they loved on me all through college and I can't imagine how many people have been blessed by her family. Anna Hancock came in town too. She has two girls, which I know was hard for her to leave them for a weekend. I only got to play with her for a couple of years, but she was consistently funny, and a hard worker. She is quick and can bat both left and right-handed (this always impresses  me when people can do that). Anna is a good ole souther girl and she is so pretty. I hope her husband knows that he is a lucky man. A girl I didn't even have the opportunity to play with in college named Ashley came to play too. I mean, this meant so much to me that she would give up a whole day out of her life to do something for me. It amazes me that people I don't even know care for me. Both of the Dietzs came. I have known this family since I can remember. Their brother Ryan and Cousin Kyle, and Amy's husband Bobby played with us as well. We would not have won 3rd place if we didn't have Ryan, he was our pitcher and RBI king for the day. It was great that this family was able to play together. It felt like old times. Kristy still is involved with softball as a high school coach. She was the best lead-off hitter ever. She had an on-base percentage probably somewhere in the 90%! And she can run, steal bases, and slide like nobody's business. We may both live in Pasadena, but we rarely bump into each other, so it was great catching up. Amy is the girl that taught me not to beat myself up too much if I made an error or messed-up. Now, I would say that she was wise beyond her years. She is a gifted player, but she knew that this was not the most important thing in life. I can see now that her calling was to be a wonderful mother. Both of her children were in our dugout with us and they are two of the most pleasant children I have ever been around, and I am around a lot of kids!  Amy and Kristy together are a great combination. Kristy and I are very similar with our competitiveness, it is ingrained in our beings. I never do something without trying to win, I don't see the point. I am already planning on practicing more for next year's tournament. I'm also planning on kicking this Cancer's Butt. I have no intentions of going down without a fight and I can see how everything that I have experienced in my life has only prepared me for this time, for the fight of my life. I will see my son off to college, I will see him get married, I will retire from my job someday, I will have more children, I will tell everyone I meet about the amazing God I serve. My God has blessed me with some of the best friends, best family, best coworkers, and best doctors a girl could have. I am about to go to sleep and use the very special quilt Mimi's mom made me with all the sweet comments my friends sent in, all three of my boys names are on my quilt, I love this quilt, a quilt made out of love. Thank you so much Lori for my quilt, I keep looking at it and noticing something new every time I look. I have so much more to share, but even my fingers are sore today after all those games yesterday, so I'm signing off for now, but I can't wait to tell you more, more of the good things.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thomas is Here!!


So, this is my favorite picture from the day Thomas was born, it still strikes an emotion within me when I see it. It was taken by one of my good friends from work, Susan Martinez. If I never said a word about that day, I feel like this picture expresses exactly how I was feeling. 

This was my first attempt to load a picture, so bear with me, I hope to get better at this as I go. I am so excited to tell you about the best day of my life.  On Monday, September 27, I had a regularly scheduled appt with the wonderful Dr. Rowe. I had been really worried because Dr. Rowe had scheduled a vacation for the first week in October (how dare him). My due date was not until Nov 1, so I guess he thought this would be okay, but I was already having contractions and he did not want me to contract very much since my first c-section had been through the thickest part of my uterus. I told him I had to have Thomas this week because I was naming my baby Thomas after him and I could not name my son Linda (that is the name of Dr.Rowe's partner). Well, sure enough, I had too much fluid around Thomas, I had lost my mucus plug, and I was starting to dilate. Yahoo, I was being admitted to the wonderful Antepartum Unit where I would be cared for by the most amazing nurses again. I was in the room next to the "bad" room, I didn't even want to look at that door, I wondered if any other mothers had lost their babies in that same room. I focused on my new room and I could not wait to meet my baby face-to-face. I savored every kick, hiccup, punch, heartburn, peeing every hour, even the insulin shots. I loved that I was pregnant. I was only 35 weeks pregnant, but I HAD to have my baby before Dr. Rowe went out of town. I wanted him to be a part of a story with a happy ending too. I wanted him to smile and laugh when he came to see me after this c-section. I had a ton of visitors Monday-Wednesday, but on Wednesday morning my contractions really started picking up and they were hurting now. The nurse called Dr. Rowe and the decision was made to go ahead and schedule a c-section for Thursday morning at 0700. This would be different, anesthesia came by and told me that no matter what I was going to the ICU post surgery simply from my past and I barely had any platelets. My husband and family had been donating platelets since my admission and I would receive infusions of platelets before my surgery this time. I would not have a c-section on the Labor and Delivery floor, instead, I would have it in the real OR so they would be prepared for any situation. I instructed the Anesthesia team that I would not take or receive any medications like Versed that would make me forget even one moment of this day. I would have to be put to sleep because I could not get an epidural with my low platelets. This made me sad and this also made it impossible for Paul to be in the OR with me to see Thomas exit my belly. I had always dreamed of pushing out a baby all natural with no meds, but this was not an option for me. The morning of the c-section, I got up and showered, fixed my hair, put on make-up, and prayed constantly. I wanted to look half decent for my pictures with my baby.
     They put me on a stretcher in my sexy gown and wheeled me down to the OR. Paul, my parents, and his parents, and a bunch of family were there waiting. Since I had to go to the OR, Paul couldn't go back to the holding area with me where they prepped me for surgery. I had to take off my glasses at this point, so I couldn't really see everybody too well. The first person to make me cry was the Anesthesiologist who kept telling me how I wouldn't be able to see my baby after the c-section because I would be in the ICU and babies could not come there. WHATEVER! I explained to him that I would see my baby and he shot back and said that I was a nurse and I knew better. I informed him that today, I was not a nurse, I was a MOM. Right after this, Dr. Rowe arrived and I told him about this mean man and he reassured me that I would see Thomas, and I instantly felt a sense of peace. It is rare to find someone these days that you can totally trust, but I trust Dr. Rowe completely. Then, my OR nurse was a friend of mine from Shriners in Galveston and she kept saying how happy she was for me that I was having a baby and it felt good to have a friend there to witness the birth of my son, since I would be knocked out. Then, they started wheeling me to the operating room and suddenly FEAR overtook my body. What if I died, what if I bled to death, what if Thomas died, what if they had to do a hysterectomy, WHAT IF? I had one of those "Come to Jesus" moments with myself. I laid it all out to Him. I had never wanted something so much before and I begged Him to take care of me, and I begged Him to take care of Thomas, and I begged Him to forgive me for not trusting Him like I should have the past 11 months. I had to clear my conscience. I watched everything they did, they cleaned my belly, I was freezing, I was no longer modest, I was talking to them and they were laughing, we prayed, and then the last thing I heard was,"Mrs. Bennett, I am going to press down on your cricoid and intubate you."
I was out, and in what seemed like an instant, I was awake. I need to see my baby, I need to see him. Where is my baby? Hello? Immediately, Paul showed me pictures of MY baby on our camera. I had instructed all my family that Paul could see Thomas right after the c-section, but no one else until I had seen him. I can't explain this really, but it had to do with all the people that got to see Benjamin before me, I wanted Thomas to hear my voice first, see my face first, feel my kiss first, this may sound selfish, but for me, it had to be this way.
   I was telling everyone in the recovery room that I was ready to go and see my baby. The same Anesthesiologist said, "If you can stand-up and get in that wheelchair, then you can go see him." I started getting up, this crazy man did not know me. I would have cut a finger or toe off at this point. I ended up with this super nurse that was my advocate. She said, "No, she does not have to do that, I will push her in her stretcher to go and see her baby." And, that is exactly what she did. Her name is Nikki. She fought for me and she will never know how much that meant to me. They disconnected me from all the monitors and took me to the nursery. There he was, the most beautiful sight I had seen. He was breathing all by himself, he was crying, he was moving, he was alive. I held him, I kissed him, I smelled him, I talked to him, I cried to him, I loved him. I didn't ever want to let him go, but eventually I had to be taken to the ICU. Let me tell you what I really wanted to do, I wanted to sprint up the highest mountain in the world and scream from the top of my lungs, "My God is faithful, My God is awesome, My God is Real, My God loves me!!!!" My hope had been restored, my faith renewed, my heart was healing, the song in my heart was playing again. People, there is no way that God is not real, I know He is real, I have felt Him, I have heard Him, I have seen Him. I told every nurse that came into the room about Jesus, I told all the pastors that came to visit me I was ready to preach a sermon about my testimony, I was ready to tell the world about Jesus. I couldn't stop smiling, or crying from joy. This was the best day ever. I kept doing everything they wanted me to do so that I could hurry up and be transferred to a post partum room. That evening, right at shift change, they transferred me. I had been walking around for awhile and had made them discontinue the morphine Dr. Rowe tried to give me. I did not want to be altered at all. I wanted to remember and cherish every second of this glorious day.
     Once again, the nurses at this hospital went above and beyond for me. Eventhough I was transferred right at shift change, they made sure to bring Thomas to me immediately, Dr. Rowe told them that I was not to get a roommate, that I was to have a private room for my stay. I am sure this is what he had dreamed for me with the boys, and now, he was giving me the royal treatment. I am so thankful for his kindness. I probably thanked him 2000 times that day. He had prayed for me, he had cared for me, and he loved me. The next few days seemed to fly by. I stayed in the hospital until Sunday. On Saturday, Thomas was circumsized by Dr. Rowe and he never cried. Dr. Rowe told him, "You are tough like your Momma." It is weird that this little comment meant a lot to me, he thought I was tough, but I thought I was weak. Saturday night, Thomas had to stay under the bili lights due to his jaundice. I had to be under the bili lights when I was born too, he was already like me:)
     On Sunday, we packed-up all our goodies, loaded the car, this time with a baby. I sat in the back with him and just stared, I couldn't stop. I did make sure he was breathing every single second. We didn't head home, instead we went straight to the cemetery. I know, this is a bit untraditional, but I wanted to let his brothers know that I still loved them, and I wanted Thomas to know about his brothers. Afterall, if you think about it, if they had lived, Thomas would not be here. Crazy thought, huh? After leaving the graveside, we went home to signs in our yard and on our door and family awaiting us. This was so different, everyone knew what to say, everyone was smiling and talking, strange how a baby can heal so many wounds. People were finally looking at me normally again, there was no more sympathy and sadness in their eyes. Now, I was finally able to breathe easy and relax. Thomas was here, he was okay, and I was going to teach him so many things, but mostly I am going to teach him about Jesus and unconditional love. I want him to know what that feels like, the way I do. I have never told anyone else this, but I want you to know something else that my wonderful cousin Karen had said to me when the twins were born. She came to me and with eyes full of tears, she soflty said, "Trina, I will move in with you, I will help you take care of him, we can do this." We knew that if Benjamin had lived, he would have special needs. It felt so good to see her hold Thomas, to know that someone like her would be around Thomas for the rest of his life, I want him to know and spend time with people like her.
     Bringing home a baby changed our marriage. We HAD to communicate a lot more now. We had to coordinate so many things.We had to stay on a schedule. We had to work as a team. Before, we could be way more independent, but now, we had a common goal- to raise a child together. I mean, this is a huge responsibility people. This made me also have a lot more respect for my sister. I don't know how she managed to raise Karina by herself. It has to be so hard. I think it is hard and I have Paul. My sister did it all by herself. She is stronger than I ever realized.She is who I lean on, she is usually the first person I call when I need help, when I need to cry, or when I just don't want to have to call the insurance company again. She handled all the yucky stuff for me. She has protected me since I was a little girl.
    



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thomas is Coming!

About four weeks after the boys were born, I went back to work. I had to.I couldn't sit in an empty, silent, lonely house all day anymore. Would I be able to go and take care of other people's children? I didn't really know, but I did know I worked with the most amazing people in the world and I feel like they are my family. They were and still are so good to me, so compassionate, so loving, and extremely protective of me. I had a few breakdowns, patients would come in and ask how my babies were and I would just have to flee the room. One patient in particular had a father that is a minister and when I went in to do my assessment, he said, "I have seen that look you have in your eyes before, you have buried a child before haven't you?" How did this man know? Come to find out, he was a missionary in a country where lots of mothers have to bury their babies due to all different kinds of factors. He said my eyes were hollow, strange how someone I did not know could see my pain, but some of the people closest to me didn't see it, or maybe they just didn't mention it. I ended up pouring my heart out to this man and telling him just how I felt about God at the moment. I now know that God put him in my life at exactly the right time. He comforted me, told me he would pray for me, and he encouraged me. When I left the room, I had an epiphany! For the first time in my relationship with Christ, I was truly treating him like my father. I was raw and open with Him. I talked to Him so much more now, I needed Him so much more now, I was finally being REAL with Christ. You know what? God still loves me unconditionally just like my own dad does. He never left me, He never abandoned me, He still had blessings in store for me. I had no idea how wonderful my life would soon be.
     In the time between the twins death and the beginning of March, lots of things were going on. We kept getting lots of bills and I hate debt, I hate bill collectors, and I had to put a stop to it. So, I got a second full time job working with that wonderful cousin of mine, Karen. She works at Ben Taub in the Emergency Room, which was kinda my dream job too. I was still working at Shriners full time too, so I was working twelve 12-hour shifts in a row with a day and a half off and then I would start it all over again. It was only a day and a half off because I would have to switch from days to nights or vice versa. This schedule probably would have killed me if I kept it up too long, but I was able to pay a lot of debt off this way. I worked this schedule for about a month and I truly loved my time at Ben Taub, I learned a lot and I got to see my cousin even more, and with her, I always felt safe, she always protected me without me having to ask. She simply understood, she got it. Well, in the middle of the night on our second wedding anniversary, I woke-up at 2am and I just had a gut feeling that I was pregnant, I can't really explain it. I got up, drove to Walgreens and bought a test, no, more like 5 tests. I came home and peed and like magic, two lines appeared. I felt it again, it was joy in my heart, but this time there was something else with it, FEAR. Oh my goodness, every bad scenario imaginable popped into my head. I woke Paul up and I cried and showed him all the tests. I was pregnant! God still loved me, He is giving me another chance. Now, in these wee hours, we had to call someone, so we called Dr. Rowe!  He told me he was excited, but nervous and I needed to come in the next day for an appt, so I did just that. Then, I heard it, I heard Thomas' heartbeat. Paul told him about my crazy work schedule and he ordered me to quit the Ben Taub job due to the stress it would put on my body because it was so demanding. I never like quitting anything, but I would do absolutely anything for my baby, ANYTHING. It looked like I was already about 6-7 weeks along, so I had a long ways to go. I didn't tell everyone this time, no facebook posts with ultrasound pics, no flowers sent to our parents, nothing. It had to be this way. Of the people I told, I told them not to buy anything and give it to me. They could buy something and store it, but I didn't want anything until my baby was here, in my arms, breathing on his own, moving, crying, pooping, peeing, all of it. This would be different. I had learned that there are no guarantees in this life. I never tell people that everything will be okay because sometimes it is not okay. I left out one part, during the time between the death of my boys and my new pregnancy, Dr. Rowe kept in touch with me, he would text me and say that he was praying for me at random times and he would tell me that he knew I would have a baby. I love this man. I can't describe it, but when you endure something so tragic with someone, you are bonded. With my new liver doctor on board, this pregnancy was indeed a lot different. Until the day Thomas was born, I had been extremely tense inside. I couldn't seem to relax. I could still see Ben and Jacob's faces when I closed my eyes. I would see Dr. Rowe once a month for a couple of months, then twice a month for a couple of months, then every week, then twice a week. I never had to wait in the waiting room, Kim always had me come right back. She would share with me and I would share with her. She always made me feel special, and she treated me so good. I had a lot of anxiety. I needed to hear Thomas' heartbeat everyday. When I was at work, I could listen with our doppler at work, but when I had to be put on bedrest, she went and got a doppler and told me I could take it home. She seemed to go above and beyond every day for me. She would give me my lab results in record time. She comforted me when I had to go on insulin as my steroids had to be increased in an attempt to help my body make more platelets. I ate perfect during the pregnancy. I monitored everything that went into my body, I made sure the water temperature for every bath was okay, I talked to Thomas non-stop, I treasured every day that I was able to carry him in my womb. He was healing my broken womb. When we found out he was indeed a boy, we started discussing names. Paul's grandfather's name was Thomas, he has an amazing, Godly uncle Thomas, and then there was Dr. Thomas Rowe. When we told Dr. Rowe we were naming him Thomas, I said, "If my Thomas loves the Lord just a smidgen of how much you love the Lord, then I would have a wonderful, God-fearing son." I will always take Thomas up to see Dr. Rowe as he grows, I want him to know men like Dr. Rowe, I want him to be so in love with Christ that it comes out in all that he does. Dr. Rowe is like that, he prayed with me at my appts, before my surgeries, and I know he prayed for me when I wasn't even around. If anyone ever needs a high risk maternal fetal doctor, then I highly recommend this man. I could go on for days about his greatness. His entire staff is amazing, thoughtful, hard-working, compassionate, and just plain wonderful. I actually looked forward to every single appointment with him and his team.
     Okay, I'm getting to the good part, but it will have to wait. I am sleepy and I want to give the next blog my best. Afterall, this would be the best day of my life, I would be renewed, refreshed, I would rejoice again, I would feel God, really feel Him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dodging a Bullet Today and Some Other Stuff

This morning, I woke-up and headed to bootcamp to workout. I look forward to working out with this wonderful group of people and our fearless leader David. David is a true man of God. He knows so many scriptures and he gets so excited when sharing God's word. He prays with us every morning and he encourages me so much. I left feeling great! But, on my way home, I was in a bad accident. I am afraid my dream car may be totalled, but we will wait to find out later this week. I am so happy to be okay. I do feel like I have reached my limit of what I can handle. I spent the majority of the day at the Emergency Room. I had to be checked out due to my liver condition and the fact that I could very easily bleed to death, per my transplant team. I was hit while driving through a green light and a man turned left into me. I am extremely sore, but I  have found the silver lining. When I was pregnant with the twins, I really wanted a mini van and everyone thought I was crazy. Well, I am proud to say that my rental car is a brand new mini van, it has less than 100 miles on it and I love it. I love my insurance company and I had a great nurse taking care of me. My sister and Karen got more done at the ER than if they had gone to work. My sister took care of a bunch of bills for me, Karen worked steadily on the Softball Tournament Fundraiser, and I was able to write out all our other bills to send out. It was nice to get to spend time with them, time has taken on a new meaning for me, it is such a gift. Paul called the insurance company and took care of all of that during his conference period. Thomas had picture day today at Mother's Day Out and I can't wait to see the pictures. I realized that even in the midst of chaos, there was order in my life. A very nice man stopped to help me out and helped me find my glasses that were knocked off my face and my phone that was also thrown back. I wish I had pics, but it was still dark out and my old Iphone does not have flash, so no luck.
     After being discharged today, I went to the Enterprise place to pick-up my rental car and a lady there recognized me from all the fundraiser stuff. I was so humbled by a stranger telling me that she knew I was a former teacher, she had been praying for me, and she had donated money. I mean, people I have never met REALLY are praying for me. I am so blessed, God is so evident, so real. After leaving the rental car place, I had to go grocery shopping. I was lucky to get one of the baskets with a steering wheel for Thomas to drive the cart with. I wish you all could have seen how cute he was. He was talking and waving to everyone we went past. I talk a lot to him and he kept throwing stuff out of the basket, so we were playing while shopping. A lady walked up to me and said, "It is so nice to see a mom that loves and enjoys her child, I can tell how much you love him." Of course, this made me cry because then I think about how I don't want to leave him, I want to be here for him, I want him to know me, I want to see him come to know Christ as his Saviour, I want to see him fall in love, I want to see him hit a homerun, I want to see everything. I shared with this woman about my twins and how, yes, Thomas was the biggest blessing, he restored my hope, he brought so much joy back into my life. When I was loading groceries after checking out, this same lady came and told me that she would be praying for me and that she just knew that everything was going to be okay. People are so good, this I know.
     Speaking of joy, it was a long time after the boys had died that I laughed, I mean a belly laugh that makes you cry because you can't stop. I felt that if I was joyful and happy, I would be letting them down somehow. I know that sounds crazy, but it isn't to me. People rarely speak of them and if I stayed sad, I was honoring them somehow (Grief makes you think a little different, it is a roller coaster). I can remember the day I finally let loose with my laughing. I was driving home from work in May of 2010, pregnant with Thomas in my belly. I was listening to 104.1 and they were talking about this lady that called CBS and left a funny message, then, they played the message. I had to pull over because I was laughing so hard, I was crying. This lady was really mad because there was a severe weather warning during the Season Finale of Criminal Minds, which is one of my favorite shows too. She really let them have it and explained what shows they could interrupt, but not Criminal Minds. You would have to hear it to appreciate it. After laughing with tears, the real tears came and I cried for a long time. I felt guilty for laughing, guilty for enjoying it, and guilty for feeling guilty. It has been six months, I deserved to laugh, right?
     I guess I should finish the rest of the story....After handing Ben over and realizing that they were going to wrap him up and put him in a bag, a bag like I had placed patients in before, it broke my heart. I still wanted to hold him. I needed to kiss him one more time, I needed him. I soon became very demanding. Dr. Rowe wanted me to stay in the hospital, but I told him I was leaving, I didn't want to be around all these pregnant people or the people that just had their babies, I wanted to be home. He agreed if I promised to go and see my liver doctor in one week and if I let him check my labs one more time. Sure, do whatever, can you ask the girl who draws my blood to hit an artery and let me die, death would be easier. I also had to make an appt with him the next week to have my staples removed. By this time, my soulmate best friend Priscilla (whom I call Pree) had arrive from Los Angeles and she made me feel a little better. I think this was hard for her because she had never seen me so weak and vulnerable before. She came and stayed with us until after the funeral, and she will never know how much that meant to me. No matter how much time goes by that we don't see one another, we pick right back up. I met Pree in college, we played the same position on our softball team at ULM, so we were unlikely friends due to our competitiveness over our position, but we were meant to be friends. I could say and do absolutely anything in front of her and she accepted me. I drug her to church with me most of the time and we went to numerous Bible Studies together. We had so many things in common. We recently visited her when we went out to California for my brother's wedding. She makes my heart happy. She has been here for every important event in my life, she never lets me down.
     Being discharged from the hospital without my babies was hard, I mean unbearable, I wanted to steal someone else's baby. I know, these are crazy thoughts, but my arms longed to hold a baby, my breasts longed to feed a baby, and my heart longed to love a baby. God, please raise my babies up, I know You are capable of doing ANYTHING, You could do this if you wanted. Please give me my babies back, turn back time, please do something, this is not my life, this is not my life. Someone, wake me up! Why? I want to know WHY? TELL ME, SPEAK TO ME, DO NOT LEAVE ME, WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME? Yes, I was screaming at God, crying out, begging, pleading, I was completely pathetic, I had hit the bottom, no, the bottom was ripped out from under me. Someone help me, someone pick me up, someone explain this to me. I am such a fool, I told everyong I was doubley blessed by having twins, but no, I was in double pain, double agony, double heart-break. I wanted to sleep, sleep forever really, I didn't want to deal with a funeral. Paul had already started making plans, music was being downloaded by people on both sides of our families, my cousin Kea Shawn wrote the most beautiful obituary I had ever heard, Aunt Joanne had done my Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photos and she made an amazing slide show, printed out pictures and framed them with the help of Karen and my Aunt Tricia. I treasure those photos so much, photos are a gift, they are so important to me. My sister bought decorations, my Aunt Kim and sister made their little burial gowns. Paul's family relatives own Rosewood and they helped us so much financially and with all the details. His sister Mary's church paid for the motorcycle cops to escort us from the funeral to the graveside.The llist goes on with all the kind things done for us. I was able to spend time alone with my babies and hold them again, this was the first time since leaving my womb that they were together again. It was good that they were together, they were twins, they were brothers, they were angels. This is where you will really think I am crazy, I was checking for a heart beat, I still believed God could give me my babies back. I believe every word of the Bible and I believe my God can do anything, absolutely anything. Paul had asked Dr. Rowe to do the eulogy and it was spectacular. The service, singing, the pictures, all the flowers, all the people, they were a blessing, but to be honest, I didn't want any of this, I would rather lose all the people I love, all my friends, I would trade it all for my babies to be back with me. I wanted to love these babies like my Momma has always loved me. The graveside service was so final, I mean, they put my babies in the ground, they would for sure suffocate now and there would be no hope for resurrection. These are the thoughts I had. I did not know what tomorrow held, how was I supposed to move on from this? What would I do in the morning? I mean, for the past 7 months, I had been planning for babies, then I was busy planning a funeral with Paul, and now, I had nothing to plan for. I needed to start working on Thank You cards, but I really wanted to be back at the hospital taking care of my babies. I was afraid of the future for the first time. I was scared to leave the house because I didn't want to bump into anyone I knew, I didn't even want to get dressed, I didn't want to take a shower, I didn't really want to do anything. I really didn't want to be "the lady whose babies died." I just wanted to be Katrinia again. I was already dreading the upcoming holidays, this is a big change for me because I used to look forward to the holidays all year. I love family gatherings and shopping for others, but not this year, I wanted the holidays to go away and stay away.
     So, I went back to Dr. Rowe's office the next week and this is when my relationship with Dr. Rowe's amazing nurse Kim starts. She had always been wonderful to me at all of my appts, but her heart of gold would make such a difference in my life. No woman wants to go and sit in the waiting room of her OBGYN after her babies die. I couldn't stand to look at all those pregnant bellies, and all the questions. "When is your baby due?", "Is this your first baby?", "What are you having, a boy or girl?"  These questions hurt me, but I never had to say anything. Kim showed me a back entrance to the office to use and told me I could check-in with her and I never had to go to or wait in the waiting room. How did she know I couldn't handle it? I guess she must have been listening to God and He guided her to be so caring and kind to me. She was gentle and soft, and she cared. She is absolutely beautiful on the inside out. I soon felt like she was my friend, afterall, she seemed to know how to treat me and talk to me better than some of my own friends. If one more person had told me about this being "God's Plan," I was going to let them have it. I would ask them if they wanted to switch places with me, or if they lost their child tomorrow, would they just say, "oh well, it was God's plan?" Note to the wise, don't tell a grieving person about God's plan, deep down I understand that He is in control of all and He knew this is what my life would hold, but I did not want to hear it, not now. Kim and I grew even closer when I started visiting Dr. Rowe when I was pregnant with Thomas. That is what my next post will be about, Thomas, I don't know if you see any correlation with my Thomas and my wonderful Dr. Thomas Rowe....